17 replies [Last post]
Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 4 years 40 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

posted for possible inclusion in FAQs ?

This link explains how validating your pages first, aids in getting the best response on forums.

The title is by way of explaining why help is often not forthcoming on forums, when presented with un-validated tag soup code and how a little effort in advance can get you a much better response;

http://diveintomark.org/archives/2003/05/05/why_we_wont_help_you

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

DCElliott
DCElliott's picture
Offline
Leader
Halifax, Canada
Last seen: 2 years 23 weeks ago
Halifax, Canada
Timezone: GMT-3
Joined: 2004-03-22
Posts: 828
Points: 0

Why validation helps

While that is a good suggestion there is a threshold of knowing that is necessary before you know how much you don't know. :oops: It was only through using the excellent text editor Notetab and its integration with Dave Ragget's HTMLTidy that I learned about validation. It wasn't like it was one of the first things I learned in HTML. I came up through the usual process of frames (oh yes we remember frames, don't we), table based layouts, and then to the wonders of CSS (and proceeded to absolutely position everything just like you all did, too. And don't you deny it. :roll: heh)

The first step I take when dealing with anyone's posted code is run it through TidyUI to catch validation errors or change the code to XHTML and also to create nicely nested "pretty" layout for ease in diagnosing nesting. Half the time you can isolate the more egregious errors with this step alone, which "validates" Mark's major point.

Sure there is Google and there are tutorials up the ying yang and forums and all that. We are fricking drowning in information but parched for wisdom. That is the point that Mark misses, I think. We all have our favorite resources, designers who have been our mentors. I remember the first 3 column CSS layout I adapted from Saila, learning lists from Eric Meyer, the right DOCTYPE from alistapart and then finding thefixor and its incredible collection of links (and no linkrot) and CSSDiscuss to name only a few. And I can't believe I hadn't stumbled across the list of common problems and solutions at positioniseverything before today.

I'm sure we all made a ton of mistakes before our first real "aha" - that glimmer of how it all fit together. But the most important aha comes when we understand that the tags and properties are finite and pretty simple - it is the infinite relationships and interactions that is the real challenge. We have this incredible medium that can convey words, images, sounds and interact with the user in myriad ways - superficially so accessible, but with a steep learning curve to any sort of mastery.

So this goes back to the problem for any beginning student of web coding - they are faced with an assignment and a huge library where they often don't even know enough of the language to ask the right questions. However, faced with that problem, some of them ask - can you do my assignment for me, rather than saying, this is what I think I am supposed to be doing, can you suggest were to start?

I guess this is part of where I was going when I started my Has anyone ever heard of Google? rant. How to respond properly given the great diversity of abilities and, lets face it, willingness of some people to get cyberdirt under their fingernails. We can get situations where questions and responses set off a chain of events that highlights the frustrations on both sides.

I certainly don't have any particularly sage counsel here, I am just trying to clarify my own thoughts on pixelpaper and am lobbing a handoff to others. I would really like to hear from beginners about their reactions to these discussions. I don't think we fully appreciate their needs and expectations, and, of course, when did we ever ask them?

Thoughts, anyone?

DE

David Elliott

Before you ask
LearnXHTML|CSS
ValidateHTML|CSS

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 4 years 40 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Why validation helps

Wow, more of a response than I anticipated Smile

The reason for suggesting the link was by way of providing another, hopefully, useful pointer to people starting out and I do believe it's essential that as many people understand the issues involved in "Standards" and how validating can be a useful tool, although I would agree that it's not really the first thing one would learn when starting out and indeed can be a little confusing at times especially to someone not used to it's output.
The title is a little unfortunate and gives the wrong impression and if I could I would change it.


Your right in pointing out some of the failings in the article but I think that the major premise holds good that of attempting to eradicate some of the more basic errors before posting, thereby demonstrating the desire to understand and solve as many problems as one can.



Quote:
Sure there is Google and there are tutorials up the ying yang and forums and all that. We are fricking drowning in information but parched for wisdom. That is the point that Mark misses, I think.


Spot on; the problem abound is that while there is a glut of technical information and tutorials out there there is very little (if any) good writing that addresses the fundamental concepts of CSS, or the philosophy if you like.
This presents the problem that while people can absorb the technical workings of the box model it is very hard for someone new to grasp the conceptual nature of CSS; hence the style of layout, that we've all done where one just throws a box anywhere one fancies.
I have long waited for one of the so called Gurus of CSS to grasp this fact and to write the article that deals with the conceptual side rather than the technicalities, as this should be the first thing one needs to understand.

As to the question of how to deal with the posters that just want quick answers or their assignments done for them as opposed to the ones that wish guidance and suggestions, who knows, it's obviously a thorny issue i think some methods were covered in the ' Has anyone....' thread
What there does need to be, is a consensus opinion on how to deal with these types of posts and indeed an implicit understanding that they do need to be dealt with in some fashion albeit with sensitivity

Perhaps now that there is a Mod team ( who's status ought to be readily identifiable) it would be best for us to back of those posts and leave them to the mods to deal with in a manner they feel appropriate.

Getting back to my original posting it really was intended as a method of providing a little more information for people and in NO way meant as a veiled sense of my feelings.
I guess that it would be better to write up an original explanation and guide to validation and benefits of Standards ? anyone.

DE, you just had to open Pandora's box, didn't you
Laughing out loud

Hugo.

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

rmfred
rmfred's picture
Offline
Elder
Rock Springs, WY
Last seen: 1 year 1 week ago
Rock Springs, WY
Timezone: GMT-6
Joined: 2004-01-31
Posts: 1073
Points: 31

Why validation helps

Most excellent comments...

Quote:
grasp the conceptual nature of CSS;
is an area where good information is sorely lacking IMHO... I too have waited for that article to be written Smile it would be a GREAT primer for ne1 using css, whether they are a novice or a pro...

The point about validating prior to posting a question is certainly valid, but as DC pointed out; not everyone knows about validation. Search the forum or google are also valid points; but what if you don't know WHAT to search for?
Forums can be confusing, particularly for the 1st timers..I know my initial foray into forums was.. What category do I post in? How do I phase the topic so it will interest someone enough to read and hopefully reply? How do I write my actual question, and what type and amount of information do I include that will make it possible for someone to help? etc etc etc

So... maybe a Forum 101 sticky that must be read before you are allowed to post? Covering such items as

Validate - with links to validators - if your code fails and you need help determining why.. post here

If possible provide a link to your work instead of 700 lines of code

If trying to adapt anothers code... provide a link to where you got the code

And so on....

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 4 years 40 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Why validation helps

rmfred, good points, I agree that not everyone knows about validating
but that is the reason that the FAQS exist and the discussion in "has anyone heard..." thread discusses. To my mind this "resource should not just be about posting a question but hopefully to provide a knowledgebase of information that can be used first by a beginner to orientate themselves with and gain some background to, even perhaps clear up minor issues before diving in with their questions we then can perhaps help with the more bewildering aspects of CSS.

I think your forum101 is thinking along the right lines , I suppose I would hope that most would actually bother to have a good read through the FAQs before posting but maybe you have to make them Smile

Hugo.

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

Tony
Tony's picture
Offline
Moderator
Brisbane
Last seen: 1 day 5 hours ago
Brisbane
Timezone: GMT+10
Joined: 2003-03-12
Posts: 5342
Points: 2963

Why validation helps

Let's try and put some effort into writing some more FAQ's possibly one along the lines of the above mentioned article, that explains how to validate and why.
Then we can point people to the articles as much as possible.

Many people wont bother reading no matter what we do, they will just post a "will someone fix this for me" type question. In that case we can send them to the FAQ section and hopefully teach them to help themselves.

If your not comfortable with writing articles then just comment on the ones that others write so we can improve them.

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 4 years 40 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Why validation helps

Ok i've put a little effort Smile into something that may help guide new comers on the subject of validation, although I'm slightly conscious of the fact that it could due with fleshing out in certain areas and really could do with an explanation of why the application of standards is necessary and indeed easier for all in the long run. I'll have to think further on it.

Any comments anyone?

BTW I was planning on removing the link in the original post as I feel that it's probably only going to be taken the wrong way ( the title really doesn't help :roll: ) and re-reading the piece I'm not sure that I think it is an appropriate way of explaining things to newbies.

=====================

Why Validate


If your just starting off down the road to coding using "standards", one of your best friends is going to prove to be "Validation".
The validation service provided by the W3C is a free online service that will test your pages for errors
in your HTML/XHTML coding using the specifications and requirements set out in the "Document Type Declarations" that you place at the start of your page and which govern how the browser interprets your code.
If as likely you are using CSS to style your pages then the W3C also offer the Jigsaw Validator that will check through your Style Sheets.

The reason that I say it will be your best friend is that, if you make use of the service from an early stage in your work and re-validate at regular and frequent intervals through the development of your code then you will pick up on many small errors that otherwise may have had you looking in all the wrong places trying to discover the reason your layout is not working when it was just a case of a simple missing closing tag in a deep nested list or use of Deprecated Tags etc.

I would warn first timers valadating their pages that the output from the W3C validator can be a little daunting and you may well find some of it's warnings less than clear ( that's an understatement!) and you may crash back in total despair when looking at 157 listed errors; but don't panic the best way of dealing with the validator errors is to not worry about the number of them as often one error has a knock on effect and produces others.
Look for clear problems such as unclosed tags and fix those, don't attempt to go off and fix every single error, fix a few then revalidate. You will be surprised how often fixing one problem will clear up quite a few others.

It would be sensible at this stage, to also mention the most best method of working with standards compliant code, which is to code for the most compliant Standards aware browser first then check your work in less Compliant offerings such as IE6.
Working this way, you will find far fewer cross browser errors than if you coded for IE.
At this moment in time I think most Designers/Developers would probably agree that Mozilla's Firefox is the most Standards Aware and compliant browser available and it has some essential extensions-available from Firefox Extensions to aid the developer; namely the "Web Developer Tool Bar" (which has tools such as element outlining, CSS editing on the fly and many other invaluable items) and the extension to "Source view" that gives you an automatic validation of the source code courtesy of "Tidy" which means that basic errors are picked up well before they become a problem.

There is another reason that validating through your work will aid you and that is through clearing up basic and obvious errors in your code, you will be better able to determine that the problems you are experiencing are something which you require more detailed help with.
when you come to post a question you can be safe in the knowledge that it is unlikely to be due to something daft and you will gain the respect of those whom you ask help of, as you have demonstrated a willingness to attempt to solve some of the problems yourself and it goes a long way in gaining fast and useful advise.

So in conclusion; make a point of valadating your code as often as you can, find those little errors before they accumulate and code to the most compliant browser then check backwards through the less compliant offerings.
Just following these small points will make things a lot easier and will alow us to give help and advice where it's really needed rather than Just pointing out the lack of a DTD.

Hugo.

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

Tony
Tony's picture
Offline
Moderator
Brisbane
Last seen: 1 day 5 hours ago
Brisbane
Timezone: GMT+10
Joined: 2003-03-12
Posts: 5342
Points: 2963

Why validation helps

Hi Hugo,
Fantastic post. =D>

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 4 years 40 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Why validation helps

Thanks Tony ,
I still feel it needs to be tied into an explanation albeit generalized one on the reasons for "standards" but that will be a far harder challenge.

Hugo.

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

DCElliott
DCElliott's picture
Offline
Leader
Halifax, Canada
Last seen: 2 years 23 weeks ago
Halifax, Canada
Timezone: GMT-3
Joined: 2004-03-22
Posts: 828
Points: 0

Why validation helps

I agree, Hugo, that it is a fantastic post . . . for someone who already knows a lot of html. I think that we need to pitch these to a level of understanding that is at the beginner level. I sure as heck didn't know a "<abbr title="a tag that is no longer used in modern HTML">deprecated tag"</abbr>* or some of the other terminology at the time.

I'm also wondering if we make this type of post that we need to do them in full HTML to allow use of tags beyond BBCode as in my example above that would allow a brief onmouseover definition of the term "deprecated tag" . There should also be crosslinking between the How Tos to back-reference concepts that have already been dealth with.

I almost think that the How tos might better exist outside the forum proper and run as pages like Tony has for the CSSCreator and the .clearfix method and such. I just find the forum's "habits" such as opening crosslinks in a new page and such to not be friendly if you want to do one window hyperlinking.

A bit of a ramble but certainly some points to ponder.

DE

*and, yes, I know that is a semantic misuse of the <abbrev> tag

David Elliott

Before you ask
LearnXHTML|CSS
ValidateHTML|CSS

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 4 years 40 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Why validation helps

My first consideration in writing anything is to pitch it towards the level of a newcomer, as I have always been concerned that whilst there is a glut of technical information available and very well written articles they are too, that they tend to be written by people with a high degree of technical ability who have perhaps lost sight of what's it's like to be new to things, attempting to make sense of the rather too technical detail and anyway I don't think that I have the technical expertise to write well above that level.
I still hanker after some more conceptual style articles rather than technical esp when starting out. Outline the concept to me then I can fill in the detail!

I too fretted over the lack of html specifically the use of the abbr tag
spent ages trying to slot it in Smile
For now I am using a link to the wonderful Wikipedia
for acronym references and have updated the "deprecated tags".
I gave up caring about the exact semantic use of abbr and acronym when I discovered that only one would work :roll: decided I'd be a rebel Laughing out loud

I think that you may well be right in thinking that some of the "How to" might be better suited to static html pages or at least gain some better control over formatting especially if they are lengthy.

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

gary.turner
gary.turner's picture
Offline
Moderator
Dallas
Last seen: 16 hours 32 min ago
Dallas
Timezone: GMT-5
Joined: 2004-06-25
Posts: 9743
Points: 3822

Why validation helps

DCElliott wrote:
I sure as heck didn't know a "<abbr title="a tag that is no longer used in modern HTML">deprecated tag"</abbr>* or some of the other terminology at the time.
<p>I sure as heck didn't know a <span style="border-bottom: 1px dotted gray;" title="a tag that is no longer used in modern HTML">deprecated tag"</span> or some of the other terminology at the time.</p>I don't know that that's better, but at least <span> is semantically neutral. Smile

cheers,

gary

If your web page is as clever as you can make it, it's probably too clever for you to debug or maintain.

Hugo
Hugo's picture
Offline
Moderator
London
Last seen: 4 years 40 weeks ago
London
Joined: 2004-06-06
Posts: 15668
Points: 2806

Why validation helps

KK5st wrote:
<p>I sure as heck didn't know a <span style="border-bottom: 1px dotted gray;" title="a tag that is no longer used in modern HTML">deprecated tag"</span> or some of the other terminology at the time.</p>
I don't know that that's better, but at least <span> is semantically neutral. Smile


Yes that's a reasonable alternative. Still can't use it in the posts though. Crying

Before you make your first post it is vital that you READ THE POSTING GUIDELINES!
----------------------------------------------------------------
Please post ALL your code - both CSS & HTML - in [code] tags
Please validate and ensure you have included a full Doctype before posting.
Why validate? Read Me

DCElliott
DCElliott's picture
Offline
Leader
Halifax, Canada
Last seen: 2 years 23 weeks ago
Halifax, Canada
Timezone: GMT-3
Joined: 2004-03-22
Posts: 828
Points: 0

Why validation helps

The point about using abbr was that most browsers will give you an onmouseover effect that displays the title text in a tooltip allowing you to give on-the-spot definitions of terms used without disrupting the flow. I suspect you can JS the same thing, but it is more involved.

DE

David Elliott

Before you ask
LearnXHTML|CSS
ValidateHTML|CSS

Tony
Tony's picture
Offline
Moderator
Brisbane
Last seen: 1 day 5 hours ago
Brisbane
Timezone: GMT+10
Joined: 2003-03-12
Posts: 5342
Points: 2963

Why validation helps

I would rather not have to set up another section that allows html to be entered.
History has shown me that there is really only a few people willing to put in any work to provide the content.
We have previously tried to get a FAQ section, a knowledge Base going without and the CSS Properties list without much support.

So being a CSS site we can do a little CSS magic with what we have. I will look at changing the U and I bbcode to use <span class=u and <span class=i then set up the css so that any I inside U will be popup text similar to a title.
Another alternative may require a bit more work but not too much would be to add a popup or title button which would add another class of span and could be used in any bbcode tag.

Although neither solution is perfect semantically we need to work with what we have.

Tony
Tony's picture
Offline
Moderator
Brisbane
Last seen: 1 day 5 hours ago
Brisbane
Timezone: GMT+10
Joined: 2003-03-12
Posts: 5342
Points: 2963

Why validation helps

In the excitement I lost site of a big part of the user group.
IE doesn't support hover on anything but links.

Just for interest IE stats on this site are dropping quite significantly each month.
Here's the stats for all IE browsers over the last couple of months.
Sept 61.8 %
Oct 59.8 %
Nov 57 %

How good is that Smile

Tony
Tony's picture
Offline
Moderator
Brisbane
Last seen: 1 day 5 hours ago
Brisbane
Timezone: GMT+10
Joined: 2003-03-12
Posts: 5342
Points: 2963

Why validation helps

Here's and example using U + I If you hover here this will popup like a title in Firefox and other browsers with hover support for IE it should be just inline text.
It needs a little refining but the basic idea works in Firefox and Opera.
{ I will have to go and fire up a windows box now to test it. }

DCElliott
DCElliott's picture
Offline
Leader
Halifax, Canada
Last seen: 2 years 23 weeks ago
Halifax, Canada
Timezone: GMT-3
Joined: 2004-03-22
Posts: 828
Points: 0

Why validation helps

There is a JS that will enable it on IE. You can see it at a new page I am working on at http://ethicalframeworks.dal.ca - look for the abbreviation CIHR. I'm not sure but it may be adaptable to a particular tag and class.

But I fear we are digressing from the importance of having content . . .

DE

David Elliott

Before you ask
LearnXHTML|CSS
ValidateHTML|CSS